Increasing Your Sales Close Rate!

Sales success comes from a solid, proven sales management process that lets you drive the sales process and ultimately increase your close rate. The more you drive the process, the more control you have over the outcome and the greater your opportunities for success! The following steps are proven strategies for increasing your close rate. Clients of mine who follow this strategy have reported dramatic increases in sales.

“Vicki gave me an idea of how to approach prospects and run my business in a collaborative style. Her way is more subtle and more centered than other ways I’ve tried. Not salesy. Its how I like to speak with people, and it really works!” Peter Sutton, President Marin County Sidewall, Petaluma, CA.

When you have a process, you have a foundation that allows for more flexibility in how you solve a prospect’s problem. Having a sales process will also give your prospects more confidence in you. The process shows them know you are a professional and have a plan for helping them find solutions to their needs. The more confidence you can give prospects, the more they will trust you. The more they trust you, the more they will want to do business with you. 

A sales process benefits you because it:

  1. Puts you in charge, not the client.
  2. Allows for more control over the client experience.
  3. Provides for clearer understanding of what the client wants.
  4. Provides you with tools to make a clear offer to the prospect.
  5. Gives you the competitive advantage

A sales process benefits your clients because it:

  1. Let’s them be informed and educated about the process.
  2. Gives them more confidence about what they are doing.
  3. Let’s them feel heard and understood.
  4. Allows them to develop trust in you.
  5. Enables them to make a clear decision.

Here are five steps to sales success:

Step One: Set Expectations. When prospects call, let them know you have a process and ask if you can set up a time to talk. This initial call will take about 15 minutes, and it gives you a chance to get more information before you meet face-to-face. Explain your process and get contact information. This is your opportunity to make a good first impression and demonstrate your professionalism. You start to set yourself apart from the competition by being organized and in command of the call and the process.

Step Two: Discover What Isn’t Working and What They Want. This looks easy, but you need to ask the right questions during the initial call. Your goal is to find out what their “pain” is – what is not working that has them wanting to do this work / project. I suggest having a client intake form that will allow you to get some basic questions asked about what isn’t working now and what they would like. Your goal is to find out everything you can about their project, their challenges and problems, their expectations and any biases they may have about working with a contractor. You want to be able to customize your proposal so it directly addresses all their concerns, issues and interests.

Step Three: The In-Person Meeting – Identify a Solution. In the walk-through meeting,you want to identify what in the physical space is currently not working and what they would like. If you are working with a couple, encourage both parties to be present during the walk-through. Take notes about everything you observe and everything your prospects say they want or want to avoid. Go over what they told you by phone and find out if there is more. Establish expectations by expanding on what you found out in the phone meeting. The goal is for you and them to gain clarity about these things, so you can provide the best possible solutions. Remember – questions are good!

Your solution needs to:

  • State what isn’t working.
  • Describe what they said they wanted.
  • Address concerns they have expressed.
  • Be within their budget.
  • Give them a sense of comfort that you are the right choice.

Step Four: Manage Expectations. Having a process to manage the project helps keep you on track toward success. Be clear about what the customer wants and how you can provide it. Put everything in writing—what the customer said they wanted, what their problems are, what they expect you to do to resolve their problems, prices, deadlines—formalize it and get agreement. Make sure everyone is on the same page. Use checklists to keep track of everything and ensure it all is done. Honor your commitments!

Never leave a customer in the dark. Provide regular communication and status reports to your client, manage their expectations and give them updates on progress. Be willing to admit when you are wrong. Never waffle when a mistake is made. Take ownership and present alternatives and actions that will mitigate the consequences. Apologize and move ahead.

Step Five: Follow Up. Set a time to go over your bid with your client. Be prepared with a scope, schedule and price. Make sure your bid includes a description of concerns, the client’s desired outcome and any special considerations. In the proposal presentation meeting, you want to let them know you heard their concerns and desired outcomes. Your goal is to show that you understand what those are and are providing a solution that will get them from where they are to where they want to be.

Following these steps will give your prospects more confidence in you because they demonstrate your professionalism and present you as the solution they need. The more confidence you can give your prospects, the more they will trust you. The more they trust you, the more they will want to do business with you. And that leads to more business success!


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